Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

January 28, 2009
First gene discovered for most common form of epilepsy
An international team of researchers, led by investigators at Columbia University Medical Center, has uncovered the first gene linked to the most common type of epilepsy, called Rolandic epilepsy.

Biologists find stem cell-like functions in other types of plant cells
Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants -- a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells -- researchers at New York University's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found.

Natural brain substance blocks weight gain in mice, UT Southwestern researchers discover
Mice with increased levels of a natural brain chemical don't gain weight when fed a high-fat diet, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Architect Steven Holl wins the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Arts
The Arts award in this inaugural edition of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards has gone to the US architect Steven Holl.

Weizmann Institute scientists discover how cancer cells survive a chemotherapy drug
New techniques enabled Weizmann Institute scientists to assess the actions of thousands of proteins in cancer cells and identify those that help some survive a chemotherapy treatment.

Deceiving cell walls
Researchers have introduced a highly promising new approach for the development of drugs to treat pneumococci, which cause pneumonia and meningitis.

Genomatix joins Illumina-Connect program
Genomatix Software announced today that is has joined the Illumina-Connect program, linking them to the ongoing Illumina program and working with them to develop new tools and applications for Illumina-generated data.

Rochester study raises new questions about controversial plastics chemical
A University of Rochester Medical Center study challenges common assumptions about the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), by showing that in some people, surprisingly high levels remain in the body even after fasting for as long as 24 hours.

Names give cows a lotta bottle
Giving a cow a name helps to boost her milk production, Newcastle University scientists have found.

Readers build vivid mental simulations of narrative situations, brain scans suggest
A brain-imaging study is shedding light on what it means to

Structure of enzyme against chemical warfare agents determined
The enzyme DFPase is able to rapidly and efficiently detoxify chemical warfare agents such as Sarin, which was used in the Tokyo subway attacks in 1995.

Analysis shows sertraline and escitalopram are the best of 12 new-generation antidepressants
A comprehensive meta-analysis of 12 new-generation antidepressants has shown sertraline and escitalopram have clear advantages in terms of efficacy and acceptability, while reboxetine was shown to be the significantly less efficacious than the other 11 drugs.

NEC Foundation of America awards grant to NJIT
NEC Foundation of America has awarded NJIT a $32,000 grant to support the dissemination and use of therapeutic video games to serve children with severe sensory and motor disabilities.

Carnegie's Arthur Grossman receives Gilbert Morgan Smith medal
The National Academy of Sciences has awarded Arthur Grossman, of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Plant Biology, the 2009 Gilbert Morgan Smith Medal

Witness for the prosecution? The effect of confessions on eyewitness testimony
What is it with false confession? A new study in Psychological Science indicates to what extent confessions may influence eyewitness testimony.

Oetzi's last days
Oetzi the Iceman -- the stone-age man who spent thousands of years as a frozen mummy -- may have been attacked twice in the days before his death.

Researchers may have found why women have an edge on salt-sensitive hypertension
Researchers may have found why women have an edge in keeping a healthier balance between the amount of salt they eat and excrete -- at least before reaching menopause.

I feel your pain: Neural mechanisms of empathy
Is it possible to share a pain that you observe in another but have never actually experienced yourself?

Omega-3s ease depressive symptoms related to menopause
Omega-3s ease psychological distress and depressive symptoms often suffered by menopausal and perimenopausal women, according to researchers at Universite Laval's Faculty of Medicine.

Blood pressure test reveals heart disease risk in patients with early stages of CKD
Pulse pressure, an inexpensive and noninvasive measurement derived from blood pressure readings, can effectively indicate which patients with kidney disease are at increased risk of developing potentially fatal heart complications, according to a study appearing in the February 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Researchers identify new function of protein in cellular respiration
Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have found that the protein Stat3 plays a key role in regulating mitochondria, the energy-producing machines of cells.

Molecular mechanism of anaphylactic shock decoded
Researchers at Heidelberg University have found a molecular mechanism for anaphylactic shock.

Weight loss in overweight and obese women reduces urinary incontinence
Reducing urinary incontinence can now be added to the extensive list of health benefits of weight loss, according to a clinical trial funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Office of Research on Women's Health, both part of the National Institutes of Health.

Support cells, not neurons, lull the brain to sleep
Brain cells called astrocytes help to cause the urge to sleep that comes with prolonged wakefulness, according to a study in mice, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Biofuels ignite food crisis debate
Taking up valuable land and growing edible crops for biofuels poses a dilemma: Is it ethical to produce inefficient renewable energies at the expense of an already malnourished population?

New study highlights the distress of medical staff
While losing a baby is distressing for parents, until now it has been less widely acknowledged that medical staff themselves can be affected by the losses experienced by their patients.

A supercharged metal-ion generator
Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a powerful new kind of sputter process for the electronics industry -- and for other, more exotic applications, including use in outer space -- which deposits high-quality metal films in complex, three-dimensional nanoscale patterns at a rate that by one important measure is orders of magnitude greater than most existing systems.

Adolescents with unpopular names more prone to committing crime
A new study in the journal Social Science Quarterly examined the relationship between first name popularity in adolescents and tendency to commit crime.

Domain walls that conduct electricity
Domain walls that conduct electricity, mere billionths of a meter wide, could be the ultimate nanoscale feature for future electronics.

UC Davis research shows that newly discovered drug reduces heart enlargement
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have discovered that a prototype drug reduces heart enlargement, one of the most common causes of heart failure.

New form of intravenous iron treats anemia in chronic kidney disease patients on dialysis
Ferumoxytol, a novel intravenous form of iron that permits rapid administration of large doses, has been shown to be effective for treating iron deficiency in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients on dialysis, according to a clinical trial appearing in the February, 2009, issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Bringing easy-to-use, effective natural family planning to American women
A three-year HHS Office of Population Affairs award to Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health will enable federally supported programs in California and Massachusetts to offer the Standard Days Method, a highly effective, easy-to-use natural family planning method developed by Institute researchers.

Anxiety and depression do not affect pregnancy and treatment cancellation rates
A study published in Human Reproduction on Thursday, Jan. 29, shows that anxiety and depression before and during fertility treatment does not affect the likelihood of a woman becoming pregnant or of her canceling her treatment.

From molecules to populations: Fighting the epidemics of obesity and diabetes
A $2.5 million grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund will establish a new Ph.D. program at UCLA that will train the next generation of scientists in multiple disciplines to fight diabetes.

Early warning systems underestimate magnitude of large earthquakes
Scientists seek to create reliable early warning systems that accurately estimate the magnitude of an earthquake within the first seconds of rupture.

New laser for neurosurgery allows greater precision and efficiency for removal of complex tumors
Surgeons at Northwestern Memorial Hospital are among the first in the country to use a new micro-laser, which uses light energy in place of a cutting tool to remove complicated brain and spine tumors.

Government services for young people at risk of drugs misuse may be doing more harm than good
Current government programmes aimed at reducing drug and alcohol use among young people may be ineffective and may even be doing more harm than good, according to a paper published today in Public Policy Research, the quarterly journal published today by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Mountain caribou's ancient ancestry revealed
The declining mountain caribou populations of Canada's southern Rockies are a more distinct breed than scientists previously believed, according to a new study by University of Calgary researchers that discovered the mountain herbivores are a unique blend of woodland and tundra subspecies.

Missing genes link to psoriasis
Genetics experts at the University of Nottingham have been involved in a scientific breakthrough which is helping to explain why some people may be more likely to suffer from the chronic skin condition, psoriasis.

Breast cancer drug shows promise for treating, preventing progestin-dependent tumors
Recent studies suggest that human breast cancer risk is increased by outside exposure to the hormone progestin, such as during hormone replacement therapy.

Commonly used measure of CKD found not cost-effective
Measuring glomerular filtration rates from routine blood work may not be not a cost-effective way to identify people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to a study appearing in the February 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Human DNA repair process recorded in action
A key phase in the repair process of damaged human DNA has been observed and visually recorded by a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Some of Earth's climate troubles should face burial at sea, scientists say
Making bales with 30 percent of global crop residues -- the stalks and such left after harvesting -- and then sinking the bales into the deep ocean could reduce the build up of global carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by up to 15 percent a year, according to just published calculations.

'Fossil earthquakes' abundant
Rocks formed only under the extreme heat and friction during earthquakes, called pseudotachylytes, may be more abundant than previously reported, according to new research focused on eight faults found in the Sierra Nevada.

Astrocytes regulate sleep pressure and memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
Scientists have discovered an unexpected brain mechanism that modulates the regulation of sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation.

Research will help to revive 'dead' Manx language
A researcher at the University of Liverpool has produced the first modern, comprehensive handbook on Manx Gaelic -- a language thought to have died out in the mid 19th century.

Brain structure assists in immune response, according to Penn vet study
For the first time, a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine have imaged in real time the body's immune response to a parasitic infection in the brain.

Blood and urine protein predicts CKD progression
Measuring a small protein in the blood and urine can predict which patients with non-advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD) will progress to a more serious form of the disease, according to a study appearing in the February 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Plums poised to give blueberries run for the money
There's an emerging star in the super-food world -- plums.

It's the network: Penn researchers examine behavior influenced by network structure
Michael Kearns has demonstrated in 81 separate experiments that network structure alone can affect outcomes, relationships and behavior.

Academy honors 18 for major contributions to science
The National Academy of Sciences will honor 18 individuals in 2009 with awards recognizing extraordinary scientific achievements in the areas of biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy, social sciences, psychology and application of science for the public good.

Mammals that hibernate or burrow less likely to go extinct
According to a new study published in the American Naturalist, mammals that hibernate or that hide in burrows are less likely to turn up on an endangered species list.

Virginia Tech engineers study space weather conditions that affect our lives
New radars will enhance the ability to continuously track the impacts of disturbances in Earth's near-space environment, such as global warming, geomagnetic storms, and solar wind.

Proton pump inhibitors increase risk of heart attacks for patients on common cardiac drug
Patients taking the common cardiac drug clopidogrel following a heart attack are at a significantly higher risk of a recurrence if they are also taking widely used acid-lowering medications called proton pump inhibitors, a new study published online in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found.

Success for first outdoor, large-scale algae-to-biofuel research project in Nevada
The first real-world, demonstration-scale project in Nevada for turning algae into biofuel has successfully completed the initial stage of research at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Report shows motor control exercises reduce persistent low-back pain
Motor control exercises, when performed in conjunction with other forms of therapy, can significantly reduce pain and disability in patients with persistent low back pain, according to a new systematic review published in the January issue of Physical Therapy, the scientific journal of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Survival in a Changing World: The Journal of Experimental Biology 2009 symposium
Climate change has already significantly impacted the habitats and living conditions of many species, including our own.

What happens when we sleep
Lack of sleep is a common complaint but for many, falling asleep involuntarily during the day poses a very real and dangerous problem.

Tracking poultry litter phosphorus: Threat of accumulation?
A recent analysis of soils in the Delmarva Peninsula has shown that two forms of phosphorus are heavily present as a result of composted poultry litter, and two scientists have measured the accumulation of one of these forms from the manure to the crop soils.

Study shows younger women with endometrial cancer can safely keep ovaries, avoid early menopause
A study published online Jan. 26, 2009, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows no survival difference between premenopausal women with early stage endometrial cancer whose ovaries were left intact during cancer surgery compared with those whose ovaries were surgically removed.

MIT: Improving oil extraction with new mapping technology
Picture this: an accurate map of a large underground oil reservoir that can guide engineers' efforts to coax the oil from the vast rocky subsurface into wells where it can be pumped out for storage or transport.

Most bacteria from craft goat's cheese come from lactic acid and could be beneficial for health
A research work carried out at the department of Microbiology of the University of Granada has performed an analysis of the DNA of different varieties of craft goat's cheese.

Call to action: Running out of options to fight ever-changing 'super bugs'
People are dying from

American Association for Cancer Research hosts Science of Cancer Health Disparities Conference
With new evidence emerging on the role of biological, genetic, environmental, behavioral and social factors that contribute to disparities in risk and outcome for cancer in minority populations, the American Association for Cancer Research will host the Science of Cancer Health Disparities Conference in Carefree, Ariz., Feb.

The Dead Sea: Tectonic concurrence below ten kilometers of sediments
The Dead Sea lies in a basin structure situated below the sea level.

Concordia University leads academic team for national Cellulosic Biofuels Network
A new, three-year research program between the Canadian federal government, universities and industry partners will focus on the conversion of agricultural waste into biofuel.

Weizmann Institute scientists create working artificial nerve networks
Weizmann Institute scientists are learning how to grow nerve networks that perform as logic circuits.

Marching to the beat of the same drum improves teamwork
Armies train by marching in step. Citizens sing the National Anthem before sporting events.

Medical College of Wisconsin recognized for AIDS intervention research
A program designed and evaluated at The Medical College of Wisconsin to help prevent the spread of HIV in high-risk populations has been one of eight chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for inclusion in The 2008 Compendium of Evidence-based HIV Prevention Interventions.

Scientists publish complete genetic blueprint of key biofuels crop
Scientists at the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute and several partner institutions have published, in the Jan.

AGI publishes GeoRef Thesaurus, 11th Edition
The American Geological Institute has just released the latest edition of the GeoRef Thesaurus.

AGU journal highlights -- Jan. 28, 2009
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics:

Spectacular heating of planet observed
Here on Earth we worry about our planet's atmosphere warming by a few degrees on average over the next century, and even weather fronts bring temporary changes in temperature of no more than tens of degrees.

New computational technique allows comparison of whole genomes as easily as whole books
When comparing the genomes of different organisms to create an evolutionary tree, scientists have been restricted to using a few dozen genes common to all of them.

Genetic variant predicts poor response to bypass surgery
A variant of the gene for the inflammatory modulator interleukin (IL)-18 has been found to be associated with a prolonged ICU stay after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery.

American seniors living longer on less
Older Americans have experienced huge, negative financial shifts that now make it more difficult to enter retirement with sustainable economic security, a new study by Brandeis University and Demos, a national public policy and research organization, finds.

Forecasters' advice: Don't be mean-spirited, says new INFORMS management insights
When it comes to forecasting or decision-making, relying on the arithmetic mean, or average, can lead you to a seriously flawed plan of attack, according to the Management Insights feature in the current issue of Management Science, the flagship journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Physical therapists test mechanical arm to help patients recover from stroke, traumatic brain injury
Physical therapists at UT Southwestern Medical Center are evaluating a new mechanical arm that allows people recovering from neurological injuries such as strokes and traumatic brain injury to enter a virtual world where they can repeatedly practice movements needed to regain arm strength and movement.

New research findings may enable earlier diagnosis of uterine cancer
Cancer of the uterus (womb) is the most common gynecological malignancy in the West.

Surprising discoveries contribute to memory research
Neuroscientists around the world knew Henry Gustav Molaison, or H.

Black hole outflows from Centaurus A detected with APEX
Astronomers have a new insight into the active galaxy Centaurus A, as the jets and lobes emanating from the central black hole have been imaged at submillimeter wavelengths for the first time.

Scientists make malaria parasite work to reveal its own vulnerabilities
Researchers seeking ways to defeat malaria have found a way to get help from the parasite that causes the disease.

Lincoln Park Zoo awarded $1.5 million grant for new research institute
The Urban Wildlife Institute will focus studies on the interactions between urban dwellers and wildlife, utilizing sound science to create best practice conflict resolution.

CSHL scientists clarify editing error underlying genetic neurodegenerative disease
Two molecular biologists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have uncovered important new details about how a gene mutation causes a cellular editing error that results in a devastating disease called pontocerebellar hypoplasia.

You can't always get what you want: Young infants understand goals, even if unsuccessful
As adults, we are able to tell the difference between people's internal goals and the behaviors they influence.

Researchers 'unzip' molecules to measure interactions keeping DNA packed in cells
A Cornell research team's experiments involve the

Discovery could lead to a new animal model for hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus is interested in only one thing: human liver cells.

Elsevier launches CiteAlert
Elsevier, the world's leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services is pleased to announce the launch of CiteAlert.

Did I see what I think I saw?
Research increasingly suggests that eyewitness testimony may not be as accurate as we would like it to be.

Blast overpressure is generated from the firing of weapons and may cause brain injury
The brain may be injured by the noise which is produced when, for example, an anti-tank weapon or a howitzer is fired.

Exposure to perfluorinated chemicals may reduce women's fertility
Researchers have found the first evidence that perfluorinated chemicals -- chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products -- may be associated with infertility in women.

Spinal fluid proteins signal Lou Gehrig's disease
High levels of certain proteins in the spinal fluid could signal the onset of Lou Gehrig's disease, according to researchers.

Capture of nanomagnetic 'fingerprints' a boost for next-generation information storage media
A technique of capturing the magnetic

Stem cells used to reverse paralysis in animals
A new study has found that transplantation of stem cells from the lining of the spinal cord, called ependymal stem cells, reverses paralysis associated with spinal cord injuries in laboratory tests.

World's first mandatory national nanotech rule pending
The Canadian government reportedly is planning to release in February the world's first national regulation requiring companies to detail their use of engineered nanomaterials, according to environmental officials.

Astronomers get a sizzling weather report from a distant planet
Astronomers have observed the intense heating of a distant planet as it swung close to its parent star, providing important clues to the atmospheric properties of the planet.

Charcoal evidence tracks climate changes in Younger Dryas
A new study reports that charcoal particles left by wildfires in sediments of 35 North American lake beds don't readily support the theory that comets exploding over the continent 12,900 years ago sparked a cooling period known as the Younger Dryas.

MIT: Fighting malaria by changing the environment
Modifying the environment by using everything from shovels and plows to plant-derived pesticides may be as important as mosquito nets and vaccinations in the fight against malaria, according to a computerized analysis by MIT researchers.

Low-cost LEDs to slash household electric bills
A new way of making LEDs could see household lighting bills reduced by up to 75 percent within five years.

Physically fit kids do better in school
A new study in the Journal of School Health found that physically fit kids scored better on standardized math and English tests than their less fit peers.

Sequencing of sorghum genome completed
In a paper published in the journal Nature this week, Rutgers researchers Joachim Messing, Remy Bruggmann, and a team of international collaborators have described the genome of sorghum, a drought-tolerant African grass.

Weight loss reduces incontinence for women
A six-month program of diet, exercise and behavior modification resulted in a loss of 17 pounds and nearly one-half fewer incontinence episodes per week on average, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Weight loss reduces incontinence in obese women, UCSF study shows
Behavioral weight-loss programs can be an effective way to reduce urinary incontinence in women who are overweight or obese, according to a study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to